Niculae with Romania in 2012
|Full name||Daniel George Niculae|
|Date of birth||6 October 1982|
|Place of birth||Bucharest, Romania|
|Height||1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)|
|2011–2012||→ Nancy (loan)||31||(6)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 17 January 2018|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 30 October 2017
He has made 39 appearances for Romania since his debut in 2003.
Daniel "Nico" Niculae started his professional career at Rapid București in 2000. Despite a period playing for the B team in 2001, Nico proved he is one of the most gifted players of the club, and helped his club to win the championship in the 2002–03 season – his first as a first-team regular.
Niculae was Rapid's leading scorer in the 2004–05 season, with 14 goals – the third highest total in Romania's Liga 1.
In the 2005–06 UEFA Cup campaign, he and Mugurel Buga formed one of the most powerful striker pairs of the competition, with Niculae scoring 8 goals, as Rapid reached the Quarter-Finals of the competition. The season also saw Rapid claim the 2006 Romanian Cup, with Niculae scoring the winning goal in the first minute of extra-time, against Național București.
Niculae was transferred to French club AJ Auxerre in the summer of 2006, for €3.3 million. His first season with the club saw him score 4 goals in the UEFA Cup, but he struggled for goals in Ligue 1. However, the following season his form improved, as he scored 11 goals to help keep the club in Ligue 1.
The 2008–09 season was one to forget for Niculae. He was deeply affected by the loss of his father, and despite threatening to score on several occasions, he failed to find the net in 32 games.
Things got back on track in 2009–10 however. Jean Fernandez initially wanted to loan out Niculae for the season, but the latest signing Alexandre Licata was ruled out for most of the season with a serious ankle injury. Daniel Niculae found a new role in the Auxerre side, as a creator of goals rather than a scorer of them. As of April 2010, he lies third in the table for assists in Ligue 1 with a total of 8. He has a brilliant entente with Polish goalscorer Ireneusz Jeleń and has helped the Burgundian side to reach second in the table and to thus push for the Champions League places.
On 31 August 2011, Niculae signed for French side AS Nancy on a season-long loan. In a game against his former club, AJ Auxerre, on 30 January 2012, Nicuale scored a double giving his team the win. Although, before the game started, Auxerre's supporters booed him, at the end he got a standing ovation for his impressive performance.
Niculae won his first international cap for Romania in 2003, but did not become a regular squad member until the 2005–06 season.
He was selected for Romania's Euro 2008 squad, and started his country's first two matches. He came on as a substitute for their final group game against the Netherlands, but could not help Romania to a win, which would have taken the country into the Quarter-Finals.
Other than the fact that they share birthplace, he has no connection with namesake and fellow international Marius Niculae.
|1||16 November 2005||Steaua, Bucharest, Romania||Nigeria||1–0||3–0||Friendly|
|2||26 May 2006||Soldier Field, Chicago, United States||Northern Ireland||2–0||2–0||Friendly|
|3||21 November 2007||Lia Manoliu, Bucharest, Romania||Albania||3–0||6–1||UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying|
|4||21 November 2007||Lia Manoliu, Bucharest, Romania||Albania||4–0||6–1||UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying|
|5||26 March 2008||Steaua, Bucharest, Romania||Russia||2–0||3–0||Friendly|
|6||14 November 2009||Polish Army Stadium, Warsaw, Poland||Poland||1–0||1–0||Friendly|
|7||29 May 2010||Ukraina Stadium, Lviv, Ukraine||Ukraine||2–1||2–3||Friendly|
|8||5 June 2010||Sankt Veit an der Glan, Carinthia, Austria||Honduras||1–0||3–0||Friendly|
|9||11 November 2011||Stade Maurice Dufrasne, Liège, Belgium||Belgium||1–2||1–2||Friendly|